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I Went Back to Work After 3 Years and I've Never Been a Better Mom

Photograph by Twenty20

After almost three years of being a stay-at-home mom, I can honestly say, I’ve never felt like I sucked at something so badly in my entire life. Some women dream of staying home surrounded with their littles 24/7, yet soon after starting this untraditional career path, I realized I was not one of those women.

No, I'm not a monster and of course I love my children. With that said, I didn’t feel complete when my role as a mom was all-consuming. I was suffocating and drowning in the needs of my family and my children, but most of all, I felt as though I was losing myself. I was giving all of myself to everyone else until almost nothing remained.

Putting those feelings aside, I enjoy working and having responsibility beyond keeping my children alive. A position outside of the home was something for me. Something that gave me a sense of purpose. Something that made me feel valued. Better yet, something that proved my college degree and the associated substantial loan debt was worth it.

This internal conflict filled me with intense guilt. Why wasn’t it enough? What’s wrong with me? Am I a bad mom?

I recently returned to work at a desk, typing away at some computer, and I couldn't be happier. I'm in a beautiful place where my days are filled with meetings, brainstorming sessions and conference calls, a precious surrounding unscathed from the remnants of any children with constant wants and needs.

People care—or at least pretend to—about what I have to say. My ideas are valued. Conversations are filled with tasks, projects, strategic thoughts and anything unrelated to baby poop, nap schedules and tactics for getting your toddler to eat vegetables.

And the biggest surprise of going back to work after three years? I'm a better parent.

Yes, you read that right: I’m a better parent when I’m working outside the home. Now, is this true for everyone? No. But it sure is true for me.

A happy mom is a happy family, am I right?

I didn’t realize how much I appreciated the separation from my family. Just like any parent who works outside the home, I miss my kids while working. But because of that separation, when I'm with them, the quality of our time is so much better.

I’m more patient. More present. More enthusiastic and engaging. Moments with them are that much more special and enjoyed whereas before, I can’t say that was the case.

Being at home with your littles all day is hard work—harder than any job in the traditional sense. It’s constant. It’s relentless. It’s completely selfless. And you better believe it’s exhausting.

Rewarding? Absolutely. But I still ached for more beyond that role. This doesn’t make me a bad person or a bad mom, but rather a parent who is aware of her own happiness with the utmost determination to be my best.

A happy mom is a happy family, am I right?

No longer are there days where I can barely find time to pee. No longer are there days of perpetual burnout as my eyes are glued to the clock, waiting for bedtime. No longer am I exhausted, depleted of all energy with little to nothing left to give anyone. No longer are there days where I prayed for time away.

Now I'm rushing home to my kids and can't wait to hug and squeeze them. Moments with my children are filled with more laughs and smiles—and fewer frustrations—than before. One more book at bedtime? Absolutely! Another game of hide-and-seek? How about two? Sit and play? There is nowhere I'd rather be.

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